The Indiana Custody Guidelines
The Indiana custody guidelines, otherwise known as the parenting time guidelines, serve as a starting point for two parties engaged in crafting a parenting time order. These guidelines assume the basic presumption that it is generally in any child’s best interest to maintain regular, meaningful contact with both of their parents. As a result, the current guidelines set forth a model for creating an Indiana child visitation schedule that allows both parents the opportunity to maintain a healthy and beneficial relationship with their child, while also providing the parents with a variety of options tailored to address the many circumstances that arise when parents no longer live together or in close proximity.
Any parent dealing with a legal matter related to parenting time or a custody order would be wise to enlist the help of an Indiana child custody lawyer who can help ensure that their parental rights are protected and resolve issues before or as they arise. The Indiana family law attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP have a strong understanding of how local courts may interpret and apply the Indiana custody guidelines. Furthermore, we stand ready to help protect your parental rights in Indiana and negotiate a parenting time schedule that is in the best interests of you and your child. To speak with an attorney about a child custody matter today, call 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
Common Questions on the Indiana Custody Guidelines
The core premise of the Indiana custody guidelines, formally known as the parenting time guidelines, is that it is most often “in a child’s best interest to have frequent, meaningful and continuing contact with each parent.” However, the guidelines also acknowledge that, in today’s world, scheduling parenting time is difficult, especially when the parents live in separate households or are no longer close proximity to one another. Given this, the Indiana custody guidelines aim to provide parents with a parenting time model that can be tailored to meet the unique needs and circumstances of each family.
Typically, parents who are crafting a parenting time schedule will work together, using the custody guidelines, to create a schedule that is mutually agreed upon and works for all parties. However, in situations where the schedule is not agreed upon, the Court may call a hearing to hear both parents’ case. Once all arguments are heard, the judge proceeds to make a parenting time order based on the best interest of the child, while also considering each parent’s parental rights.
Who Created the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines?
The parenting time guidelines were created by members of the Domestic Relations Committee of the Judicial Conference of Indiana. In crafting these guidelines, the committee reviewed relevant literature concerning visitation, the visitation guidelines of other states, and utilized the input of child development experts and family law practitioners. Members also reviewed court files and survey data from judges, attorneys, and mental health professionals who work with children, of court files.
What General Rules are Set Forth in the Parenting Time Guidelines?
The Indiana custody guidelines, formally knowing as the parenting time guidelines set forth a variety of general rules concerning communication, the implementation of parenting time, changes to the parenting time schedule, the exchange of information, resolutions of problems and relocation, and custody and parenting time during times of public health emergencies. These rules, which are contained in the first section of the parenting time guidelines, are voluminous, but highlights include:
- Parents shall keep each other advised of their personal contact information including home and work addresses, phone numbers and email addresses, and any change to this information shall be given to the other parent in writing.
- A child and parent are entitled to private communications without interference from the other parent. Furthermore, both parents shall have reasonable phone access to their child.
- Unless agreed to otherwise, the parent who is receiving the child shall provide transportation for the child at the start of the scheduled parenting time, while the other parent shall provide transportation for the child at the end of the scheduled parenting time.
- A parent may not enter the residence of the other, except by express permission of the other parent.
- Scheduled parenting time shall occur as planned. If a parent is unable to provide personal care for the child during scheduled parenting time, then that parent shall provide alternate childcare or pay the reasonable costs of childcare caused by the failure to exercise the scheduled parenting time.
- Whenever there is a need to adjust the established parenting schedules, the parent who becomes aware of the circumstance shall notify the other parent as far in advance as possible, and both parents shall then attempt to reach a mutually acceptable adjustment to the parenting schedule. If an adjustment results in one parent losing scheduled parenting time with the child, “make-up” time should be exercised as soon as possible.
- Parents should obtain and share information about their children. However, each parent is responsible to establish a relationship with the child’s school, health care provider and other service provider.
- When a disagreement occurs regarding parenting time and the requirements of these Guidelines, both parents shall make every effort to discuss options, including mediation, in an attempt to resolve the dispute before going to court.
- Existing court orders regarding custody and parenting time shall remain in place during a public health emergency and shall be followed. Parties should be flexible and cooperate for the best interests and health of the children during this time.
What Factors May Be Considered When Creating a Parenting Time Order?
Section two of the Indiana custody guidelines set forth a variety of factors that may be considered when determining whether a parenting time order is in the best interest of the child. These include factors related to the child, each parent, each parent’s relationship to the child, the parents’ relationship with one another, as well as a handful of environmental factors. However, when a custody battle over parenting time reaches the Court, the judge will use the Best Interest of the Child Checklist to inform their final decision.
What Do the Indiana Custody Guidelines Say about Relocation?
The Indiana custody guidelines state that when either parent considers a change of primary residence that exceeds a total of 60 days, they must provide a notice of the intent to move to the other parent or person. Furthermore, as stated in Indiana Code 31-17-2.2, notice must be made by registered or certified mail 30 days prior to the intended move. In addition, the notice must be filed in court and contain certain specific information about the move, including the new address, new phone numbers, the date of the proposed move, stated reason for the move and the proposed new parenting time schedule.
It’s important to note, however, that notice of relocation is not required to be filed with the court if the relocation will reduce the distance between the two parties’ homes. Notice to the court is also not required if the relocation will not result in an increase of more than 20 miles and the child will be allowed to remain enrolled in their current school.
How are Parenting Time Orders Enforced in the Indiana Custody Guidelines?
The Indiana custody guidelines list four primary methods of enforcement when it comes to parenting time orders: contempt sanctions, injunctive relief, criminal penalties, and attorney’s fees.
Under Indiana Code 34-47-3-1, a custodial or noncustodial parent who has been served with a parenting time order, restraining order, or injunction, and chooses to willfully disobey that order can be found in indirect contempt of court for parenting time violations in Indiana. Generally, this penalty is reserved for major grievances or repeated offenses, rather than single or minor occurrences.
When a custodial parent denies the non-custodial parent with parenting time, in violation of the parenting time order, Indiana Code 31-17-4-4 allows for the non-custodial parent to file an application for an injunction against the custodial parent. If granted, this can result in a temporary restraining order being placed upon the custodial parent to prevent them from further violating the parenting time order.
As stated in Indiana Code 31-17-4-8, if a custodial parent unjustifiably violates the injunction or restraining order the court may then issue an order holding the custodial parent in contempt; requiring them to do community service; and/or requiring them to pay the non-custodial parent’s attorney’s fees.
The most serious parenting time violation in Indiana is interference with custody. Indiana Code 35-42-3-4 states that any person who intends to deprive another person of child custody rights commits interference with custody, a Level 6 felony in Indiana.
Need to Speak with an Indiana Custody Lawyer?
Legal proceedings involving divorce and child custody can often result bitter battles over who “gets the kids.” Therefore, understanding the key elements of the Indiana custody guidelines, and how courts interpret what is in the best interest of the child, is key to securing the right custody order for you and your child(ren). If you have any questions about the guidelines discussed in this post or would simply like to speak to an Indianapolis family law attorney, feel free to call Keffer Hirschauer LLP today at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.